Sometimes, in my youth, I imagined that one day, all of my dreams would come true, and I would get a sort of ticker tape parade where everyone honored me and my accomplishments. As I got older, the confetti parade morphed into the book deal and the signing with an agent and all the trappings of success in publishing. Obviously, this is all some sort of dream. It’s not like confetti launches when you sign a contract (how cool would that be?).
To make things somewhat worse, right after signing, not only is there no confetti parade, there are no great lights blinking over your head to let everyone around you suddenly know that you’re a signed writer and your really, real book will be out in the world (soon—okay, soon by some very lengthy scales). There’s nothing to see, and for many writers, there won’t be a thing to even hold in your hand for a year, so it doesn’t feel real.
And then, to make it worse, all around people are having what looks like the Confetti parade. They have the Signed With AWESOME AGENT posts; the I SIGNED A 6Figure Contract; The MY BOOK LANDED ON THE NYT Bestseller list. Oh, it’s exhausting sometimes to hold your little candle of success up in the world so noisy and filled with blowtorches of success—and wishing your little candle was more like a Hollywood special effect. But it isn’t (well, not yet you tell yourself, but there’s this feeling that it might never come true). And then after being inundated by all this noise, all this bluster threatening to blow out your little candle of success, there comes One More Person with GREAT News.
Oh, dear folks, I will tell you jealousy is an emotion you are not supposed to have. It’s not supposed to exist. I’m supposed to be a gracious and magnanimous person. And I am—most of the time. Right after I signed, I suffered from this emotion I’m not supposed to feel. I’d been taught that jealousy is bad. I’m supposed to ignore it. I’m supposed to be able to “just get over it.” So there it is, jealousy in all its hideous—shameful—presence. And the book that lands on the bestseller list is a fan fic of a fan fic, widely panned by critics as the worst stinking pile of poo ever, and it’s selling 100,000 copies a day.
And I’m jealous of that pile of poo, an unenviable position to begin with, but the very act of being jealous is also shameful. AAAAGH!!!
There is only one response: grin and bear it. If I can’t manage that, then I’ve got to find a way to at least make sure that there is no evidence I ever suffered from that shameful emotion. So it’s time to crawl into a hole, or become a smiling automaton.
This is what society has dictated, and, if you’ve been watching social media, any other responses are absolutely skewered in the public view. So writers with contracts drop out of the race. They hide. They take the shameful emotion and hide the fact that they ever had it. Because we aren’t supposed to be jealous—we’re supposed to be happy.
I know, it’s not very original, but it’s the truth, sometimes, the emotions are hard to deal with. And if you're wondering, this might be among the reasons a writer drops off the radar.